Skip to main content

What Happened with HAMP? Continued

Earlier this month, I wrote about a dispute over the history of HAMP, the Home Affordable Modification Program. This was the program supposedly designed to help homeowners who were in over the heads.

A couple of those who participated in the early Obama administration, notably including Neil Barofsky, portrayed here in full smile, have since said that Geithner administered the plan in an openly cynical bankers'-ass-protecting spirit.

At the time I last wrote about this, Geithner's own view of the incident was known only through bits and pieces, such as his quote to an interviewed from The New York Times that I cited in that blog post.

Since then, Geithner has come out with his own book on his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury. Does this shed any light?

Fortunately, amazon allows me to read inside Geithner;'s book at will, so I don't actually have to buy the thing to see what he said about HAMP.

He portrays himself as a faithful public servant who would have loved to have helped more homeowners through HAMP, but alas couldn't do so without being an inadequate steward of the public purse, etc.

That is what one would expect.

There is also this ad hominem dig: "There was a new spasm of outrage in July [2009] when the special inspector general for TARP, a former prosecutor named Neil Barofsky, released a report proclaiming that the government's crisis interventions had exposed taxpayers to $23.7 trillion in potential losses....Oversight is vital, especially when vast sums of taxpayer dollars are at stake, and skepticism is in order when the government floats cash to well-connected private firms. But Barofsky's desire to prevent perfidy was untainted by financial knowledge or experience. He assumed our motives were self-evidently sinister, as if we had helped banks for fun and profit rather than to cure a metastasizing financial crisis."

That isn't directly about the HAMP question. But I do suspect that Geithner's need to undermine what Barofsky has said about Geithner's construal of HAMP as a pro-bank runway-foaming scheme justified this slam much more than the actual TARP reference did or could.
Geithner engages in the neat ad hominem trick of accusing the accuser of using ad hominems -- "he assumed our motives were sinister...."
He gives no evidence Barofsky assumed any such thing in the TARP context which he is purportedly addressing here. In the HAMP context, the sinister nature of Geithner's motives is more of an inference than an assumption, an inference with which Geithner evidently doesn't want to contend directly.


Popular posts from this blog

England as a Raft?

In a lecture delivered in 1880, William James asked rhetorically, "Would England ... be the drifting raft she is now in European affairs if a Frederic the Great had inherited her throne instead of a Victoria, and if Messrs Bentham, Mill, Cobden, and Bright had all been born in Prussia?"

Beneath that, in a collection of such lectures later published under James' direction, was placed the footnote, "The reader will remember when this was written."

The suggestion of the bit about Bentham, Mill, etc. is that the utilitarians as a school helped render England ineffective as a European power, a drifting raft.

The footnote was added in 1897. So either James is suggesting that the baleful influence of Bentham, Mill etc wore off in the meantime or that he had over-estimated it.

Let's unpack this a bit.  What was happening in the period before 1880 that made England seem a drifting raft in European affairs, to a friendly though foreign observer (to the older brother…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Francesco Orsi

I thought briefly that I had found a contemporary philosopher whose views on ethics and meta-ethics checked all four key boxes. An ally all down the line.

The four, as regular readers of this blog may remember, are: cognitivism, intuitionism, consequentialism, pluralism. These represent the views that, respectively: some ethical judgments constitute knowledge; one important source for this knowledge consists of quasi-sensory non-inferential primary recognitions ("intuitions"); the right is logically dependent upon the good; and there exists an irreducible plurality of good.

Francesco Orsi seemed to believe all of these propositions. Here's his website and a link to one relevant paper:

What was better: Orsi is a young man. Born in 1980. A damned child! Has no memories of the age of disco!

So I emailed him asking if I was right that he believed all of those things. His answer: three out of …